iStock 1058371742

Forms of Workplace Discrimination

By Thomas McKinney

Discrimination in the workplace is a persistent problem despite federal and state protections against it. It comes in a variety of forms and can be difficult to detect and even more difficult to prove. Here, we want to take a moment to discuss some of the forms workplace discrimination takes in the hopes that you will be able to better recognize it and take the necessary steps to enforce your legal rights should you ever find yourself to be the victim of discriminatory acts.

Forms of Workplace Discrimination

A discussion as to the forms of workplace discrimination can take place based on the protected class or class member being discriminated against. It can also take place based on the nature of the discriminatory action itself. Let’s start by looking at some of the protected classes. For instance, there is discrimination on the basis of race or color. This occurs when a person of a particular race or one having personal characteristics associated with a particular race, such as hair texture, is denied equal employment opportunity because of race or the personal characteristic. Race and color discrimination also pertains to those who are treated unfavorably due to an association, such as marriage, with someone who is of a particular race or color.

There is also discrimination on the basis of national origin. This occurs when a person is denied equal employment opportunity due to being from a different country, part of the world, ethnicity, accent, or due to the perception that the person is of a particular ethnicity. National origin discrimination also includes discrimination based on unjustified English fluency requirements or someone discriminated against due to an association with a group usually associated with a certain national origin such as a cultural organization.

Sex discrimination is another form of discrimination which denies equal employment opportunities to an individual based on their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Sex discrimination includes unfavorable treatment and denial of equal employment opportunities due to pregnancy or based on gender stereotypes.

These are just a few examples of discrimination forms based on a person’s membership, perceived membership, or association with a person who is a member of a protected class. Different forms of discrimination can also be discussed based on the nature of the discriminatory act itself. For instance, there is direct discrimination. Direct discrimination is when a person is treated differently because of their membership in a protected class. Direct discrimination, to be proven, must have occurred only because of the protected class status or association and not because of any other reason.

There is also indirect discrimination. This is probably one of the most difficult forms of discrimination to detect and also to prove. Indirect discrimination occurs when a practice or policy is neutral on its face, but has a disproportionately negative impact on a certain protected group. For instance, when an employer requires job applicants to have a minimum number of years work experience, this can disproportionately impact women who have taken time off from working outside the home to raise children.

Harassment is another form of discrimination and it is also one of the most common forms of discrimination. Harassment includes any unwelcome behavior that is based on a protected characteristics. Harassment in and of itself can take on a variety of forms. It includes bullying and it also includes sexual harassment.

Employment Law Attorneys

If you have suffered workplace discrimination or suspect you have, reach out to the dedicated employment law team at Castronovo & McKinney. Contact us today.

About the Author
Tom McKinney is an experienced NJ Employment Lawyer in all major areas of labor and employment law, including discrimination, harassment, overtime violations, wage and hour claims, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, Title VII, ADA, ADEA, FMLA, LAD, FLSA, and all other employment law claims. Tom is admitted to practice in the States of New Jersey and New York, United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, Southern District of New York, District of New Jersey, and United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Prior to forming the firm, Tom practiced at Gibbons P.C. in Newark, NJ. If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Tom here today.